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- 3 wins & 17 nominations total
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- based on the 1984 film "Ghostbusters" written by
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- Ray Stantz (voice)
- 19 episodes
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- Danny Aykroyd
- 6′ 1″ (1.85 m)
- July 1 , 1952
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- Donna Dixon April 29, 1983 - present (separated, 3 children)
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- Trivia After working together on three films, Jamie Lee Curtis called him the best "screen kisser" who ever had a scene with her.
- Quotes If it hadn't been for Carleton [University], The Blues Brothers (1980) would never have been made.
- Trademarks Unique comically rapid yet steady delivery of a series of tiny details
- Salaries Driving Miss Daisy ( 1989 ) $150,000
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- What Is Cinema?
The Making of Ghostbusters : How Dan Aykroyd , Harold Ramis , and “The Murricane” Built “The Perfect Comedy”
By Lesley M. M. Blume
For the record, Dan Aykroyd really does believe in ghosts. “It’s the family business, for God’s sake,” he says from his family’s farmhouse in Ontario, site of Aykroyd séances for generations. Aykroyd’s great-grandfather was a renowned spiritualist; the family had its own regular medium to channel souls from the other side. His grandfather—a telephone engineer—investigated the possibility of contacting the dead via radio technology. His father authored a well-regarded history of ghosts; strange lights halo his daughter in photographs.
Yet Aykroyd was the first to turn the supernatural into a highly lucrative global franchise. Drawing on his spectral heritage, Aykroyd sat down one day and started writing Ghostbusters . The finished result catapulted a crew of already-famous Saturday Night Live and Second City comedians to international superstardom, and became a watershed in the industry, eroding the once insurmountable barrier between television and film actors. “ Ghostbusters —one of Columbia’s most iconic films of all time—[also] basically invented the genre of special effects-driven comedy,” says Doug Belgrad , president of Columbia Pictures.
While taking a place of honor among the pantheon of historical comedy-horror films, Ghostbusters would also inspire subsequent generations of comedians to get into the game. “It really is a perfect comedy,” says Judd Apatow . “It was all those people at the height of their powers; they had mastered their craft . . . [and] made the [film] we dreamed they’d make. Movies like Ghostbusters . . . made us want to make movies.”
Yet Ghostbusters ’s astronomical success was far from a foregone conclusion: from its inception, the eventual blockbuster faced countless obstacles, unravelings, and emergencies. The film’s budget scandalized and divided its studio executives, who considered the project a “horrendous[ly]” expensive risk to be carried on the backs of former television actors and a relatively inexperienced director. “This was not Animal House or Caddyshack or Stripes ,” recalls Tom Shales , veteran television critic and co-author of Live from New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live . “Those were all little movies. This was a big, big gamble.”
One of the leads for whom the script was written unceremoniously died of a drug overdose. The screenplay called for scores of special effects, and the major effects operations in town were tied up with other projects. To top it off, the Ghostbusters team was given a mere year to re-write, shoot, and edit the movie—even though none of the principals had ever attempted a project of that scale before. “The wisdom in town was that I had made a terrible mistake,” says former Columbia chairman Frank Price , who greenlighted the project.
Decades later, drama continues to surround the Ghostbusters enterprise, which has seen both spectacular triumph and wilting disappointment. Despite press reports of infighting among Aykroyd, Bill Murray , and Harold Ramis (who died earlier this year), the stars of the first two Ghostbusters films, Columbia Pictures has confirmed that a long-rumored Ghostbusters III is in development. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the original 1984 Ghostbusters, its cast, director, producers, and other industry greats share their recollections about the genesis of the Ghostbusters phenomenon, and talk about its legacy and the future of the franchise.
“The Mount Vesuvius of original ideas.”
It would be impossible to write about Ghostbusters without first writing about Saturday Night Live : in many ways, S.N.L. was the Zeus from whose head Athena later sprang. “Even though [ Saturday Night Live creator and executive producer] Lorne Michaels had nothing to do with Ghostbusters , the movie was a tribute to those first five years of S.N.L. and the revolution it represented,” says Tom Shales. Upon its 1975 debut, S.N.L. immediately established itself as a major cultural phenomenon. Lorne Michaels’s ambitions for his new show were unabashedly outsize: “We wanted to redefine comedy the way the Beatles redefined what being a pop star was,” he later said in Shales’s book Live From New York: An Uncensored History Of Saturday Night Live .
By Joe Reid
By Tara Ariano
By Eve Batey
He succeeded. The original cast members skyrocketed to a level of fame once reserved for rock legends and film icons. Creative Artists Agency co-founder Michael Ovitz , who represented Dan Aykroyd and Bill Murray at the time, recalls, “Walking around New York with Bill Murray was like walking around with the mayor combined with whoever the star of the Giants and Knicks was.”
By the early 1980s, the major first-wave S.N.L. alums had made the leap from the small screen to the big screen: John Belushi starred in 1978 cult favorite National Lampoon’s Animal House ; Bill Murray headlined Caddyshack (1980) along with Chevy Chase and starred in Meatballs (1979) and Stripes (1981). Dan Aykroyd was distinguishing himself as a major writing talent.
“Danny was one of the writing geniuses of our era,” says Ivan Reitman , who directed Meatballs and Stripes and co-produced Animal House . “He created the Coneheads, the Blues Brothers: all of this comes out of that wonderful brain.” Ovitz adds that Aykroyd “was an idea factory . . . the Mount Vesuvius of original ideas.” At any given moment, he recalls, “We probably had 10 Aykroyd ideas . . . in various phases of development.”
While sitting around the family farmhouse, Aykroyd says he read an article in a parapsychology journal and he got the idea about trapping ghosts. “And I thought, I’ll devise a system to trap ghosts . . . and marry it to the old ghost [films] of the 1930s,” Aykroyd says. “Virtually every comedy team did a ghost movie—Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope. I was a big fan of [them.]” He began hammering out a screenplay.
“[It was originally] written for John [Belushi] and I,” he says. The nascent project was immediately dealt a blow when Belushi died of a drug overdose in 1982. “I was writing a line for John, and [talent manager and eventual Ghostbusters executive producer] Bernie Brillstein called and said they just found him,” recalls Aykroyd. “It was a Kennedy moment. . . . We loved each other as brothers.”
Yet the screenplay that eventually became Ghostbusters would at least contain an homage to Belushi: the now-famous, green gelatinous ghost Slimer was based on “John’s body,” Aykroyd says now. “I will admit to having an inspiration along those lines.”
“Everyone was going into business in the 1980s.”
Aykroyd turned to Bill Murray, bringing his former castmate a half-completed draft of the screenplay. All of the principals interviewed for this article say that Murray agreed to be attached to the project at this early stage, although they also note—with varying degrees of exasperated affection—that Murray was already famous for not officially committing to projects until the 11th hour. (Murray did not respond to many entreaties to participate in this article.)
“With Meatballs , he was the star of that movie and I didn’t know if I had him until the day before we started shooting,” Reitman recalls, and added that Murray’s nickname, the “Murricane,” sums up the actor perfectly: “He was sort of a remarkable force of nature.” According to Aykroyd, “Whenever you can actually put a script into Billy’s hand, as if you were a process server . . . you gotta look him in the eye [and say], ‘You did receive this.’ ”
As for Aykroyd’s dream director: “Ivan was the logical choice to direct it,” he says. Thanks to the enormous success of Animal House , Stripes , and Meatballs , Reitman was fast becoming one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and bankable filmmakers. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he says today. “I got to work with the people who’d eventually become the new comedic voices of English language comedy.”
Aykroyd presented the script to Reitman; the two had worked together in a Toronto-based live-television variety show years earlier. “It was a screenplay that was impossible to make but one that had brilliant ideas in it,” recalls Reitman, who once admitted that the original draft “exhausted” him. Far darker than the version that was eventually shot, it took place in the future and on a number of different planets or dimensional planes. Yet it contained elements that would make it onto the big screen, including the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and what would become the world-famous Ghostbusters logo—a ghost trapped inside a circular red stop symbol.
Aykroyd and Reitman went to lunch at Art’s Delicatessen in Studio City to discuss the project. “I basically pitched what is now the movie—that the [Ghostbusters] should go into business,” says Reitman. “This was beginning of the 1980s: everyone was going into business.” He also urged Aykroyd to extract the film from the realm of pure fantasy and set it in a modern American city. “I called it my domino theory of reality,” he says. “If we could just play this thing realistically from the beginning, we’d believe that the Marshmallow Man could exist by the end of the film.”
And lastly, Reitman told Ayrkoyd, they should bring in Harold Ramis, director of Caddyshack and National Lampoon’s Vacation , and Bill Murray’s co-star in Stripes. Reitman and Aykroyd walked right from lunch to Ramis’s office on the Burbank Studios lot. According to Reitman and Aykroyd, Ramis thumbed through the script and listened to their plans for the project. After 20 minutes, he looked up and said, “I’m in.” He would not only become the film’s co-writer, but eventually the third Ghostbuster.
“A horrendous amount of money for a comedy.”
The fact that the script needed massive reconstructive surgery didn’t prevent the team from pitching it to Columbia Pictures chairman Frank Price. Ovitz, who also represented Reitman and Ramis, recalls calling Price about the project: “I said, ‘We have a project: Danny-written, Ivan directing; Bill Murray is attached; we’re bringing in Harold.’ Frank said, ‘What do you think it will cost?,’ and Ivan gave a number—$25 million all in—and Frank said, ‘I’ll do it.’” By his own admission, Reitman had conjured the figure up out of thin air. “Three times as much as [ Stripes ] sound[ed] reasonable,” he states.
The deal set off alarm bells among Price’s higher-ups. “It was a horrendous amount of money for a comedy,” Price recalls. He says that the president and C.E.O. of Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., Francis “Fay” Vincent, sent his top lawyer from New York City to Los Angeles to talk Price out of the project. “It was too expensive, too risky, [they said],” recalls Price. “I explained, ‘I’ve got Bill Murray.’ I was going to go ahead with it. They made it clear that it was all my responsibility. I was out on the limb.”
Price slated Ghostbusters for a major summer 1984 release—giving Reitman and the Ghostbusters team just one year to write, shoot, and edit the first big-budget, big-effects film any of them had ever attempted.
“The Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man.”
Aykroyd, Ramis, and Reitman went into overdrive to draft a shooting script—first holing up in Reitman’s offices and then fleeing to Martha’s Vineyard for a sequestered writing session. “[They were] two of the greatest weeks of my life,” says Reitman. “We worked seven days a week . . . had wonderful meals with our families and then went back to work at night.”
The first order of business: rework the now-iconic main characters, who were relatively undifferentiated in early drafts of the script. Aykroyd remembers that the team drew on a long history of Hollywood archetypes and ghost comedies to guide them: “Put [the characters of Peter Venkman, Raymond Stantz, and Egon Spengler] together, and you have the Scarecrow, the Lion, and the Tin Man.”
His collaborators say that Aykroyd was an astonishingly good sport about having his template torn apart and almost completely reworked. “I’m a better originator than executor of a finished screenplay,” Aykroyd admits. “I’m a kitchen-sink writer: I throw everything in there. I’ve always relied on a collaborator to bring it into reality.” Said Harold Ramis in Making Ghostbusters (1985), an annotated script in book form: “Dan’s great at creating funny situations, whereas my strength is more in the area of strong jokes and funny dialogue. Essentially, we wrote separately, and then rewrote each other.” Aykroyd also served as the paranormal-activities expert, providing official (and official-sounding) jargon.
Largely absent from the drafting of the shooting script: Bill Murray, who was in India filming The Razor’s Edge , a movie adaptation of W. Somerset Maugham’s 1944 novel; Murray had co-written the screenplay. Former Columbia Pictures chairman Frank Price says that he had been approached about underwriting the Maugham project with the tacit understanding that Murray would in turn join the Ghostbusters cast, even though Price adds that Murray refused to tie the two projects officially. “The only way I had a chance to get Ghostbusters made was if I did this thing without demanding a commitment from Bill,” he recalls. Faced with this “dilemma,” he concluded that The Razor’s Edge would “lose little or no money if it didn't work out”—and made the gesture to Murray.
When Murray flew back to New York after The Razor’s Edge shoot, Ramis and Reitman picked him up at La Guardia Airport to show him the reworked script. “Bill flew in on a private plane, an hour late,” Ramis said in the same 1985 interview. “[He] came through the terminal with a stadium horn—one of those bullhorns that plays 80 different fight songs—and he was addressing everyone in sight with this thing.” Ramis and Reitman “dragged him out of there and went to a restaurant in Queens,” but Murray offered little input, instead entrusting his character to the team.
“I’ve always been able to write well in Bill’s voice,” continued Ramis, who had done the honors several times before as a writer of Stripes , Caddyshack , and Meatballs . “Because I [knew] certain insane instincts of his.”
The characters and plot were well underway, but sacrifices also had to be made: the team cut vast swaths of material, both during this initial writing marathon—and again later during the editing. For example, Aykroyd’s first script had called for an illicitly operated spectral storage facility in a deserted Sunoco gas station somewhere in northern New Jersey—an undeniably punishing purgatory for captured ghosts. The writers instead opted for an in-house storage facility in the Ghostbusters’s firehouse headquarters. The shooting script called for a shot depicting the inside of “a most unholy makeshift asylum”; its tenants included the moping spirits of famous dead people. It too was ultimately cut.
“Ivan would cut things out that were shocking to people,” says Ovitz. “He was unmerciful. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
“Designing creatures for a movie that had yet to be written.”
The team faced another almost despair-inducing challenge right from the start: the new Ghostbusters script called for nearly 200 special-effects shots—and the principals recall that most of the other special-effects facilities were tied up with other major projects, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and Return of the Jedi . Reitman proposed an ambitious solution: “I said, ‘Look, we have to start our own effects house.’”
In a stroke of uncanny good fortune, Oscar-winning effects man Richard Edlund —famous for his work on Star Wars films, Raiders of the Lost Ark , and Poltergeist —was looking to set up his own shop. In a stroke of uncanny misfortune, “I was in the hospital after a back operation when I got the call from Ivan to do the movie,” Edlund recalls.
Yet he agreed to undertake the project. In a moment of rare collaboration, Columbia Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer—which needed effects for its production of 2010 —agreed to jointly fund Edlund’s new visual-effects company, Boss Film Studios.
“I had to put a whole company together—and lawyers ate up a lot of time,” Edlund recalls. “[By the time] the contract was made out, we had more like 10 months to rebuild the studio, shoot all the scenes, and composite everything. We had to build elaborate equipment. It was an incredibly ambitious amount of work.”
In the meantime, associate producer Michael Gross says that he began assembling a team of designers and artists to create the supernatural cast of the film. The assignment was an unusual one. As Reitman puts it, they were “designing creatures for a movie that had yet to be written.”
“If you get the ticket to that train, you take the ride.”
By early August, a third and close-to-final draft of the script had been completed, and the team raced to begin three-dimensional casting as well. The character Dana Barrett—the sternly foxy love interest for Bill Murray’s character Dr. Venkman—caught the attention of Sigourney Weaver , who was ready to cut her teeth in comedy after her dramatic roles in Alien (1979) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982).
“I had to audition for Ivan,” she recalls. She says she decided to show him her best rendition of a “Terror Dog”—the creature that a possessed Dana Barrett turns into during the climax of the film: “I remember starting to growl and bark and gnaw on the cushions and jump around. Ivan cut the tape and said, ‘Don’t ever do that again.’”
Yet the performance must have impressed him, for Reitman says that he “called Harold and said, ‘I think I found our Dana.’” He says today: “[When] Sigourney came in, [she] had the right amount of gravitas to her, and a wonderful sense of humor.”
Originally written up as a model in the script, Dana became a musician at Weaver’s suggestion. “She could be kind of uptight and a bit strict, but you know she has a soul because she plays the cello,” says Weaver. “We always thought of Sigourney as the Margaret Dumont of this movie,” says Reitman, referring to the redoubtable actress who served a foil to Groucho Marx in seven Marx Brothers films.
Reitman then had to re-cast the role of the nerdy Louis Tully character—originally conceived for comedian John Candy , whom Reitman had directed in Stripes . Early storyboards for the film depict a rotund, distinctly John Candy¬–esque physique. But Reitman says that when he showed Candy the script, “[Candy] said, ‘I don’t know about this. I could do it, but I should do it with a German accent.’ He wanted [to be flanked] by two big dogs. I said, ‘I’m sorry, John—maybe next time.”
Eagerly waiting in the wings for the part: Rick Moranis , who’d made a name for himself in Canadian comedy sketch show Second City Television, or SCTV. Says Reitman: “[Rick] called me back in 12 hours, and said, ‘Thank God Candy hates [it]. This is the greatest script I’ve ever read.’”
It has long been rumored that Eddie Murphy was considered as an early possibility for the role of the fourth Ghostbuster, Winston Zeddmore, although Reitman denies this: “[Murphy] was never a consideration.” Zeddmore, he says, needed to be a stand-in for the audience, a character who could have things explained to him. “[ Ernie Hudson ] had this wonderful, likeable, kind of naïve quality, and I just cast him,” he said. (Hudson recollects a somewhat more grueling audition process: “[There must have been] five interviews and after that it took a month before I knew that I got the part.”)
Rounding out the Ghostbusters’s inner circle: Annie Potts as droll secretary Janine Melnitz. If the prospect of playing a character role alongside Murray, Aykroyd, and Ramis intimidated the actress, she didn’t miss a beat. “I [was a] theater-school actor, not [from] improv, so their methods were foreign to me,” Potts says. “[But] if you get the ticket to get on that train, you take the ride.”
“I wanted this to be my New York movie.”
By October 1983, the team began shooting in New York City. During the Art’s Delicatessen meeting with Aykroyd, Reitman had proposed grounding the action in a town renowned for being a universe in its own right.
“I wanted the film to be . . . my New York movie,” he says.
It was a gutsy setting choice. At the time, New York wasn’t exactly close-up ready: the city was emerging from a decade of fiscal disaster, dissipation, and violence. “[In the early 1980s,] New York was the horrible, dirty crime center where decent people didn’t go—synonymous with the sleaziest slum in the country,” says Tom Shales. Furthermore, the epicenter of the entertainment industry had long since moved to Los Angeles.
Yet several industry observers credit Saturday Night Live —and later, Ghostbusters —with launching a cultural counter-attack on the West Coast exodus and announcing the city’s comeback. “It was like a second landing on the moon . . . Lorne Michaels putting down the flag on the moonscape, saying television started here [in New York] and should come back here,” says Shales. “ S.N.L. . . . re-asserted New York’s place in the creative life and fantasy life of the country—and Ghostbusters was a validation and celebration of that. Ghostbusters said, ‘It’s O.K. to like New York again. New York is back on top.’” James Sanders , the author of Celluloid Skyline: New York and the Movies , adds: “[The film] is a moment of resurgence and affection and love for the city, which had gone through so much.” This sentiment would be encapsulated by the last line of the film, shouted by Winston Zeddmore as he surveys the smoking, molten-marshmallow-drenched disaster zone around him: “I love this town.”
Aykroyd agreed with Reitman’s suggestion. “It’s the greatest city in the world, an architectural masterpiece,” he says today. “Energy central for human behavior.” The team delighted in the city’s gothic architecture, but embellished its on-location sets with gargoyles and menacing statues for added effect.
On the first day of shooting, Reitman recalls personally delivering Bill Murray to wardrobe (“I still had no idea if he’d actually read the script,” says Reitman). The moment he beheld Murray, Ramis, and Aykroyd “in full regalia” that day, walking down the street on Madison Avenue, he says he “went crazy.” Associate producer Joe Medjuck remembers the exchange: “Ivan turned to me and said, ‘This is going to be fucking great.’” Weaver recalls meeting Bill Murray for the first time on set outside the New York Public Library, “I went over and I introduced myself and he said, ‘Hello, Susan.’ [Then] he picked me up and put me over his shoulder and walked down the block with me. . . . It was a great metaphor for what happened to me in the movie: I was just turned upside down and I think I became a much better actress for it.”
On another day, the team drove all over the city, shooting the Ghostbusters guerilla-style at different iconic locales. “Rockefeller Center is privately owned, which we didn’t know,” says Medjuck. In one scene, a security guard in the background runs after Murray, Ramis, and Aykroyd: “That’s a real security guy, chasing them out of Rockefeller Center,” says Medjuck.
New York became a lead character in the film, which documents many now-lost landmarks, such as the World Trade Center buildings and the original Tavern on the Green. A representative of the New York Public Library, where the film’s opening scenes were shot, says that impostor Ghostbusters have occasionally burst into the main reading room and startled the patrons quietly reading there.
“Up in flames.”
To the team’s chagrin, they discovered that there had been a short-lived Saturday morning mid-1970s children’s show called The Ghost Busters , creating a legal barrier to use of the name. Already deep into the shooting, they had to create several different signs bearing the name of the fictional operation to post above the front door to the Ghostbusters’s firehouse headquarters. Alternate names included “Ghoststoppers” and “Ghostbreakers.” The issue came to a head when the team shot a scene in which hundreds of extras stood on Central Park West shouting “Ghostbusters! Ghostbusters!” over and over again. Joe Medjuck recalls: “I got on a payphone and called Burbank and said, ‘You guys have got to clear that name.’” (It was eventually cleared for film use.)
Yet the rest of the shoot was miraculously hitch-free. “If we had had one problem with Ghostbusters , the film never would have made the release date,” says Ovitz. Interviewees describe the Ghostbusters shoot as being raucous yet harmonious, despite the number of big-personality egos involved. “It was . . . open and generous,” recalls Rick Moranis. “These guys are all Second City; the unwritten rule is to make the other guy look good.” Ovitz describes the principals as “ego-less” and “wildly collaborative.”
“Being on the set was one of the great experiences of all time,” he says today. “The looseness was crazily fantastic.”
Working with a cast of exuberant improvisers was both a gift and a challenge for Reitman: “What I learned . . . is that I’d have to be nimble,” he says. “I’d set up the scene for how it had been written: lighting, blocking—and then [Bill] would have a brilliant idea. My job was to hold onto the brilliant [script] and [yet] work fast enough to take advantage of his brilliance.” An impromptu Bill Murray flourish that became a great favorite among the producers took place during the scene in which Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett enter her haunted apartment together for the first time: Venkman grips a dubious looking bit of ghost-detecting equipment that strongly resembles a turkey baster attached to a stick; he reaches down, tinkles Dana’s piano keys, and informs her: “They hate that.” Sigourney Weaver recalls that no matter how raucous the atmosphere got (“Ivan would have to periodically get out the ruler and shake it at us”), the script remained all-important: “It was like jumping on a trampoline that’s really solid.”
Shooting wrapped in February 1984—leaving the team fewer than four months to edit and complete nearly 200 postproduction opticals. Edlund and his team went into overdrive: “We had three different studios going at [once], I had a motorcycle going back and forth from one to the other,” he says. Some of the effects shots had to be “done on take one, which is unheard of.” He says that Reitman asked to add about 100 shots with only two months left, at which point “I met him in the parking lot with my samurai sword.” Reitman dutifully cut 50 shots. Other occupational-hazard set-backs also occurred: the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man—played by an actor in a marshmallow suit and shot against a miniature background—nearly became a casualty of the Ghostbusters cause: “I think we built nine different suits,” says Edlund, “and several of them went up in flames.”
In retrospect, Edlund deems the film’s effects “funky—but that’s in character with the movie.” After all, Michael Gross says, “it wasn’t a special-effects film; it was a comedy.” Several team members point out that [that] homespun quality adds to the comedy—perhaps best symbolized by the obviously handmade, kitchen-colander brain-scanning device clapped onto Rick Moranis’s head in one of the scenes. It’s supposed to look shoddy, they say. That’s the whole point.
The effects were cut into the film just in time: “The prints were still warm when they went onto the projectors,” recalls Edlund.
“Frank was right.”
The response to the first Ghostbusters industry screening was not encouraging.
“In any industry audience, everyone roots for failure,” says former Columbia chairman Frank Price. “I sat there laughing in this audience which was deadpan.” Adds Michael Ovitz: “When the film came on, the reaction was horrible. A studio executive came up and put his arm around me and said, ‘Don’t worry: we all make mistakes.’ I was nauseous . . . [but] when the movie came out, it just exploded.”
In the first week of its June 1984 release, Ghostbusters broke Columbia’s “best opening weekend” and “best opening week” records. “You never heard people laugh like they did when they were watching Ghostbusters in a packed theater,” says Judd Apatow, who adds that he first saw the film at age 16 in a Long Island theater. “It was like a rock concert; there was a line down the block.”
“The film crossed over to so many markets and audiences and was celebrated for so long,” recalls Rick Moranis. “It went through three seasons: the entire summer. [Then] every kid was dressed as a Ghostbuster for Halloween, and it dominated the Christmas gift season.” The film went on to gross $238.6 million domestically and another $53 million overseas. “I’d had hits before, but [with] Ghostbusters , I was reminded of the movie Boom Town when they hit the gusher,” says Price. “Oil is just raining down: they’re rolling in it. That’s what it felt like with Ghostbusters .” Price’s then-boss, Fay Vincent, gives VF Hollywood a simple summary of the film’s astronomical success: “Frank was right.”
Several industry figures credit Ghostbusters with helping to break down the once strictly church-and-state divide between television and film actors. In the pre- Saturday Night Live period, “agents never discussed television people for movies,” says Ovitz. “Maybe small parts, but never leads . . . no one would pay to see someone you could see on TV . . . [but] there came a movement with Ghostbusters : all of the sudden everyone was clamoring for S.N.L . people. Within a 12-month period, the entire attitude of people in the business regarding television personalities changed.”
“Great faith in the franchise.”
The perhaps inevitable franchise that followed the film’s success included a video game, a television cartoon called The Real Ghostbusters (1986–1991), and a film sequel, Ghostbusters II (1989)—which starred the original cast and grossed more than $215 million, but failed to generate the passionate enthusiasm spurred by the first film.
“It didn’t all come together,” Reitman says now. “We just sort of got off on the wrong foot story-wise on that film.” Moranis echoes this, saying, “To have something as offbeat, unusual, and unpredictable [as] the first Ghostbusters , it’s next to impossible to create something better. [And] with sequels, it’s not that the audience wants more of something; they want better.”
Yet 25 years later, Ghostbusters III is in development. In a statement issued to VF Hollywood via a studio spokesman, Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad says: “We are currently working hard to re-create the magic of the original in order to bring a new Ghostbusters adventure to life.” Studio representatives would not discuss plot or cast details, project status, or release date.
In recent years, the tabloid press and Internet reports have fueled rumors of discord among the original Ghostbusters cast about the project. In a 2010 appearance on David Letterman, Bill Murray called the prospect of a Ghostbusters III “my nightmare.” When asked by Letterman if he’d participate in the film, Murray replied, “I told them if they killed me off in a first reel, I’d do it.” Yet there appear to be no hard public feelings, at least for Reitman: “Bill’s had a life change in what he wants to do as an actor and God bless him.”
Both Reitman and Aykroyd have confirmed their involvement, but in with a 2013 interview with Larry King (who, incidentally, had made a cameo in the original film), Aykroyd revealed that the team would need to cast “four new Ghostbusters .” Reitman says that Ramis had been involved with an early draft of a Ghostbusters III screenplay, but now, the principal writer for the project is Etan Cohen, whose writing credits include Men in Black 3 (2012) and Tropic Thunder (2008). Hints of possible plot points and characters surfaced during the interviews for this article. For example, Sigourney Weaver says that during one relatively recent conversation with Ivan Reitman, “I said, I have one condition [for participation in Ghostbusters III ]: I want my son Oscar [from Ghostbusters II ] to be a Ghostbuster, and he said, ‘We’ve already done that.’”
In a phone interview, Cohen says that he and Reitman are “together for hours every week, working on it really closely.” He adds that Dan Aykroyd is acting as an overseeing Ghostbusters writer emeritus: “No one can speak the language of Ghostbusters like he can.” When asked whether a Ghostbusters III could succeed without Bill Murray, Cohen responds, “Absolutely everyone wants Bill Murray. But everyone has great faith in the franchise.”
All of the original cast members interviewed for this article tell VF Hollywood that they’d happily participate in a third installment, and several speculated about what their characters would be up to today. Rick Moranis on the fate of Louis Tully: “He’s in prison, a cellmate of Bernie Madoff’s. They compete to see who can make their bed first in the morning.” Ernie Hudson prophesies that Winston Zeddmore would be “the C.E.O. of the Ghostbusters franchise. I just hope that he wouldn’t be on a walker or [in] a wheelchair.”
He adds wistfully: “And hopefully we’ll still be able to wear the backpacks.”
Update: This article has been edited since its original posting to more accurately reflect the timeline of the film’s development.
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Get to Know the 'Ghostbusters: Afterlife' Cast, From Old Faves to New Faces
We've got a 'Stranger Things' actor, a Sexiest Man Alive, and a bunch of returning stars.
But while the movie is focused on new characters, original Ghostbusters do appear in the film. Bill Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Dan Aykroyd are all part of the Afterlife cast, but fourth Ghostbuster Harold Ramis sadly passed in 2014. The new Afterlife cast also includes a Stranger Things star, the recently-crowned Sexiest Man Alive , and some brand new faces in the movie biz. Read on to learn more about the not-so-spooky Ghostbust ers: Afterlife cast!
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Trevor, a teenager who moves to a small town with his mom and sister
Best known for: Starring as Mike on Stranger Things , of course!
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character : Callie, the mother of Trevor and Phoebe
Best known for: Starring in the TV series The Leftovers and Fargo , plus her roles in movies like Gone Girl and Avengers: Infinity War
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Phoebe, a girl who moves to a small town with her brother and mom
Best known for: "What isn't Mckenna in?" is the better question! She's known for playing the younger version of other actors in a variety of films and TV shows including I, Tonya , Captain Marvel , and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Mr. Grooberson, Phoebe's new teacher
Instagram: Not on the 'gram, sadly
Best known for: Clueless , Knocked Up , Friends , playing Ant-Man in a bunch of Marvel movies, plus being the reigning Sexiest Man Alive !
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Lucky, Trevor's classmate and crush
Best known for: Starring in the movie Selah and the Spades
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Podcast, a classmate of Phoebe's
Best known for: Afterlife is Kim's first major movie role! He previously appeared in the web miniseries Home Movie: The Princess Bride , which was directed by Afterlife director Jason Reitman
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Peter Venkman, one of the original Ghostbusters
Instagram: Not on the 'gram
Best known for: The original two Ghostbusters movies. Plus: Lost in Translation , Groundhog Day , and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Ray Stantz, one of the original Ghostbusters
Best known for: Saturday Night Live , The Blues Brothers , and of course, the first two Ghostbusters movies
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Winston Zeddemore, a character who becomes a Ghostbuster during the first movie
Best known for: The Ghostbusters movies obviously, plus Oz and Grace and Frankie
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Dana Barrett, a role she revives from the original movie. Dana is haunted by ghosts and is the love interest of Peter
Best known for: The Alien franchise, Avatar , and The Ice Storm
Ghostbusters: Afterlife character: Janine Melnitz, the secretary of the Ghostbusters. She also played the role in the original movies
Best known for: Pretty in Pink , Designing Women , and voicing Bo Peep in the Toy Story movies
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- Dan Aykroyd
How old was Dan Aykroyd in the movie Ghostbusters?
Dan Aykroyd was 30 in Ghostbusters when he played the character 'Dr. Raymond Stantz'.
That was over 40 years ago in 1984.
Today he is 71 , and has starred in 130 movies in total, 110 of those since Ghostbusters was released.
How old do you think he looks in the movie?
In Ghostbusters, I think Dan Aykroyd looks:
Did you know?
- Director Ivan Reitman has worked with Dan Aykroyd a total of 5 times in his career.
- Dan Aykroyd's first movie was as 'Goodly / Rotten / Maple (voice)' in The Gift of Winter, released in 1974 when he was 20
- Ghostbusters scores 7.46 out of 10 on TMDB .
The cast of Ghostbusters
Dan Aykroyd's other movies
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Dan Aykroyd Says Being on the Spectrum Helped Him Make Ghostbusters
Dan Aykroyd is in the news for going public about his autism. Aykroyd—comedian, singer, actor and screenwriter, Blues Brother and, of course, Ghostbuster— tells the Daily Mail that he was diagnosed with Asperger’s (a form of Autism Spectrum Disorder) in the 1980s. Aykroyd’s news comes close on the heel of singer Susan Boyle and Daryl Hannah , who both revealed that they have Asperger’s. But Aykroyd’s story is a little different.
Dan Aykroyd’s Autism and Ghostbusters
Both Hannah and Boyle said their autism made their careers more challenging—Hannah retreated from Hollywood because she couldn’t handle the demands of doing publicity, and Boyle has struggled to control outbursts that have drawn a lot of negative attention. But Aykroyd, who said he was diagnosed when his wife urged him to see a doctor, cheerfully credited his Asperger’s with being responsible for his huge hit, Ghostbusters :
"One of my symptoms included my obsession with ghosts and law enforcement—I carry around a police badge with me, for example. I became obsessed by Hans Holzer, the greatest ghost hunter ever. That’s when the idea of my film Ghostbusters was born."
It’s not the first time Aykroyd has mentioned his Asperger’s or autism—in 2004 in a delightful interview with NPR’s Terry Gross he also cited the badge: “If I don’t have a badge on me I feel naked,” he says. And he noted that his obsession with police and college study of criminology also served him well when it came to writing the Blues Brothers : “They were classic recidivists, they could never stay out of trouble, always looking for it, borderline sociopathic hedonists, and I was well armed criminological terms and knowledge.”
Akroyd also said in both interviews that he was diagnosed with Tourette’s at 12, and had “pretty bad” physical and verbal tics that made him shy, until they were controlled with therapy and the symptoms eased a couple of years later. Hard to imagine the wild and crazy guy from Saturday Night Live ever being reluctant, but it’s a story we hear all the time—kids who struggle with social limitations find acting, and humor, thrilling and liberating.
Dan Aykroyd Today
After Elon Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2021, Dan Aykroyd pointed out that he was the first person with Asperger’s to host the show. Viewers took to social media and were quick to point out that, in addition to being one of the show’s original cast members, Aykroyd hosted the show in 2003.
Dan Aykroyd was recently a special guest on an episode of The Chris Moyles Show , where he discussed passing the torch to a new generation in the upcoming Ghostbusters sequel .
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'Ghostbusters' Star Dan Aykroyd's Father Peter Dies at 98
Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd's father Peter Aykroyd has died at the age of 98. The sad news was [...]
By Stephen Andrew - July 10, 2020 11:13 am EDT
Ghostbusters star Dan Aykroyd 's father Peter Aykroyd has died at the age of 98. The sad news was reported by The Ottawa Citizen , who cited Peter as being a successful top civil servant and engineer, as well as a writer, a philanthropist and a "community booster." In addition to his famous son, Peter is survived by his other son, Peter Jonathan, as well as Dan's family, which includes his wife, Donna Dixon and their three daughters. The outlet noted that Peter's wife, Lorraine, died in February 2018, just a couple of months before what would have been her 100th birthday.
Among Peter's many accomplishments, he once worked with former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. He also served as the assistant secretary to the Privy Council, and later became the deputy chair of the Transportation Development Agency, and assistant minister of Transport Canada. Peter also authored many books, including a book titled A Sense of Place , which is the history of the Aykroyd family. In another one of his books — A History of Ghosts , which "interweaves the family history marked by a fascination with ghosts ." — Aykroyd wrote the foreword for his father. "My father, as a child, witnessed seance and kept the family books on the subject. My brother, Peter, and I read them avidly; and from all this, Ghostbusters got made," he scribed.
Along with his volunteer, philanthropic and mentoring work, Peter helped launch the Community Foundation of Kingston and Area. The Ottawa Citizen refers to it as "arguably" being "its biggest charitable organization." The organization's first director, Katherine Manley, spoke fondly of her interactions with Peter. "I was hired in March 1996. He phoned me right after the announcement was made. I had never met him. He talked about his vision of global philanthropy. His knowledge of giving was wonderful. I invited him to the national conference in London, Ontario, and asked him to join our board of directors," she said.
Manley went on to recall when the Aykroyd family helped to kickstart the foundation's launch at Kingston City Hall, sharing, "Dan rode a motorcycle into Memorial Hall, with then-mayor Gary Bennett riding in his back seat and Dan presented a big cheque from himself and his wife. When he got off that stage, he walked over to Peter and Lorraine, who were sitting in the front row, and gave them both a big hug and a kiss. It was beautiful."
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Dan Aykroyd: Cracking The Creativity Code
It was in the gonzo era of the ‘70s that we first came to know a skinny young comedian from Canada by the name of Dan Aykroyd. It was the golden age of standup comedy when nothing was taboo. Everybody and everything was fair game. If we weren’t at an underground comedy club watching Robin Williams go off the rails, we were getting high around the record player, listening to Steve Martin Get Small on vinyl.
The Second City improvisation comedy troupe brought its talents from both its original Chicago and its Toronto companies together with L.A.’s The Groundlings in 1975 and provided many of the performers who made up the Saturday Night Live ensemble. It included Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Laraine Newman, Garrett Morris and other Not Ready for Primetime Players that have since passed on to the great Friar’s Club in the sky, like Gilda Radner and John Belushi. The show, whose first host was standup royalty George Carlin, forever changed the landscape of comedy and late-night television.
Day Aykroyd at the Magic Castle (Dustin Downing)
“Saturday Night Live has been consistent with cultural iconography from then until now,” Aykroyd recently told L.A. Weekly over card tricks at the Magic Castle. “They’re still doing a great job. The writers and the cast are strong. It’s as vibrant and as relevant as ever.”
One of Aykroyd’s most classic and defiant skits at the time that has gone down in SNL history was taking on the holiness of culinary goddess Julia Child in the hysterical French Chef episode. It involved lots of liver and a kitchen knife wound resulting in a fountain of gushing blood that was orchestrated by comedian and former Minnesota senator Al Franken from underneath the table.
“Everybody loved Julia Child and she was a phenomenon at the time,” says Aykroyd. “They wrote that and I looked at it thinking it was just a cheap blood joke. But I did it and looked just like my mother when I was doing it. But everybody loved it, including Julia. My aunt was Helene Gougeon, a culinary writer and food columnist in Montreal. She had her own radio show, cooking show and a shop that brought the first Cuisinart to Canada and she knew Julia very well. It was a beautiful connection.”
But as a creative force, the award-winning writer, producer and actor says that comedy is a serious business that has its own pros and cons.
“Comedy is one of the most creative arts,” he says. “The pros are that you get instant gratification and creative fulfillment from a laugh and satisfaction from an audience. The cons are you are completely rejected on a lot of projects and you have to claw your way back to the top from the bottom every time. I’ve had scripts and ideas rejected and concepts I pitched to directors during a movie that has been shut down, as well as scenes at SNL that didn’t work — many, many times. Being in a creative field, not everybody is going to love what you’re doing at all times and you have to take those risks. But they are healthy risks to take.”
Forty years ago he took a risk that paid off in spades when he teamed up as actor and screenwriter with fellow SNL alumnus Bill Murray along with Harold Ramis, Rick Moranis, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts in Ghostbusters. To celebrate the anniversary, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire , will come out exclusively in theaters on March 29, 2004, with Aykroyd, Murray, Potts and Hudson returning to the franchise. They will be joined by People’s Sexiest Man Alive Paul Rudd.
The sequel will continue the Spengler family’s story and bring the series back to familiar locations. It will see the team facing their biggest challenge yet when New York City suddenly gets plunged into a new ice age as a supernatural artifact unleashes the “ death chill, ” which has the power to frighten people to a frigid death.
Host Dan Aykroyd in The UnBelievable ( Luis Mora/The HISTORY Channel)
When he’s not busting ghosts or unearthing The Unbelievable in a new nonfiction series on the History Channel, the seemingly ageless Aykroyd’s truest passion when it comes to spirits is Crystal Head Vodka, which he co-founded in 2008 with John Alexander, a renowned American artist and the designer of the liquor’s unique skull bottle.
The brand routinely partners with artists and encourages the community to express creativity in new mediums, most recently with American graffiti artist Risk Rock, and 50 other renowned creatives around the world to paint bottles donated by Crystal Head Vodka. The one-of-a-kind personalized bottles were on display at a recent event hosted by Aykroyd at the legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood, as well as at Rock’s Compound Contemporary Gallery in Thousand Oaks.
Artist Risk Rock, left, and Dan Aykroyd (Dustin Downing)
Once again a pioneer in a liquor landscape littered with celebrity names, Aykroyd was the first to set up the company that originally imported Patron tequila into Canada. It was his love for tequila that inspired him to create Onyx, a unique agave-based vodka.
“Dan Akyroyd was one of the original celebrities who started a liquor brand,” entertaining expert and co-host of the event Paul Zahn told L.A. Weekly . “Something great about Dan is he is very serious about the quality of his Crystal Head Vodka and its different line extensions, but also has a sense of humor about the booze business. Exactly what one would expect from a comic legend with an enterprising side.”
Crystal Head Vodka uses water from Newfoundland, Canada, to create a pure, additive-free, ultra-premium vodka. It is filtered through layers of Herkimer Diamonds and is made from locally sourced Canadian corn, Aurora, crafted from English wheat, and Onyx, crafted with Blue Weber Agave sourced from a single farm in Mexico and is sold in more than 75 countries around the world.
“Bar chefs love us all over the world and enjoy working with our virgin product as a canvas for their creations,” says Aykroyd, whose current favorite LA bar is Mama Shelter. “We figured the best thing to sell was pure, unadulterated vodka with no added oils in a vessel like a skull, which is associated with the legends of powers of positivity in the Navajo, Aztec and Mayan communities. The bottles come in black, clear, mirrored, spatter/rainbow for Pride Month in June and an upcoming vessel in cobalt blue.
“When you start with nothing, you have to be creative or you’ll end up with nothing,” said Akroyd while sipping on a Paloma in the hallowed halls of the Magic Castle.
In the celebration of spirits and 40 years of Ghostbusters, Crystal Head Vodka shared its cocktail recipes for Stay Puft and Slimer’s Revenge with us:
Ghostbusters Stay Puft Cocktail
Stay Puft 2 oz. /60 ml Crystal Head Vodka 1 tsp /5 ml Marshmallow Syrup 4 Scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream
Sprinkle of Sea Salt
Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a blender and blend. Pour into a glass. Garnish with a marshmallow and a sprinkle of sea salt.
Slimer’s Revenge 2 oz. / 60 ml Crystal Head Onyx 1 1⁄2 oz. / 44 ml Pineapple Juice 3⁄4 oz. / 22 ml Lemon Juice 3⁄4 oz. / 22 ml Honey Simple Syrup 1 tsp./ 5 ml Matcha Powder
Fresh Mint Sprig
Directions: Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake. Strain over ice in a Collins glass. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.
Ghostbusters Slimer’s Revenge Cocktail
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Ghostbusters Firehouse Gets Decorated For Christmas In Festive Image
Posted: December 25, 2023 | Last updated: December 26, 2023
- The Ghostbusters' firehouse gets a festive makeover for Christmas, with decorations including a large wreath and colorful balls hanging from greenery.
- The building is adorned with the Ghostbusters logo, strengthening the connection between the iconic location and the films.
- The upcoming Ghostbusters sequel, Frozen Empire , aims to merge new and old characters while retaining the nostalgic appeal for the original movies.
The Ghostbusters firehouse gets decked out in festive gear for Christmas. The original Ghostbusters movie released back in 1984, introducing audiences to the ghoul-fighting gang for the first time. Starring Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, and Rick Moranis, it remains one of the most beloved films of the 1980s and has spawned a franchise that continues to release new entries.
Years later, the Ghostbusters original firehouse location, still standing, gets into the holiday spirit. Steve Vegvari took to Twitter to post a picture of the building’s Christmas decor. The decorations include a large wreath and greenery lining the building.
Colorful balls were hung on this greenery, adding to the jolly spirit of the display. The building itself and the sidewalk are adorned with the Ghostbusters logo, making the iconic location connect even more directly with the films.
What Is Next For The Ghostbusters Franchise?
In the nearly four decades since the release of the original, Ghostbusters movies have been a mix of sequels and reboots. The 2016 Ghostbusters became particularly notorious, as its all-female crew split audiences. After that point, Jason Reitman attempted somewhat of a do-over revival of the series with Ghostbusters: Afterlife . Aykroyd, Murray, Ernie Hudson, and Sigourney Weaver returned to their roles from the original series, while the movie focused primarily on new characters played by Carrie Coon, Paul Rudd, McKenna Grace, Finn Wolfhard, Logan Kim, and Celeste O’Connor.
Reitman will be returning to the franchise as a writer for Afterlife sequel Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire . The film will be directed by Gil Kenan and feature many of the cast members from Afterlife , while adding Patton Oswalt and Kumail Nanjiani. Returning the franchise to New York City, Frozen Empire sees the new-age crew attempt to save the world from a second ice age, caused by the supernatural phenomenon known as the Death Chill.
Frozen Empire Is Taking Ghostbusters In A Direction It Should've Gone Over 3 Decades Ago
Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is set for release on March 29, 2024, arriving 40 years after the original Ghostbusters . Through merging the new and old characters, both Afterlife and Frozen Empire work to retain nostalgic appeal for the original films while still introducing newer faces to the mix. Still, as evidenced by the lovely firehouse Christmas display, reverence for the first Ghostbusters remains especially strong, and audiences should be excited to return to such familiar locales in the new sequel.
Source: @ SVegvari / Twitter
Key Release Dates
Ghostbusters: frozen empire.
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